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Ransomware & How to Protect Yourself

20th June 2016

Ransomware is a viral system that installs itself on your computer and then searches out various document, Excel and databases and encrypts them with an impossible to crack password.  The perpetrator then send a demand for payment, usually in Bitcoins to release the files.  Once payment has been made the password is supplied which will unlock the files.

Sadly a number of victims have paid the ransom only to find that the password is not supplied or a further demand for payment is made.

The alternative to paying the ransom  is to clear all infected files and restore from a good backup.

I received such an email which purported to be an invoice with a zip attachment.  It arrived on a Sunday so I was sure it wasn’t genuine.  I downloaded it to a totally isolated machine so as not to infect our platform.  The attachment contained an exe file which installed cryptoxxx on the computer and searched for files to encrypt.

There were only a handful of test files which were encrypted.  The ransom email requested 50 bitcoins to release the password. At its current value this is about £1500.

Needless to say we wouldn’t pay.

Apparently the UK is prime hunting grounds for these crooks as curiosity results in people opening these attachments just to see what they are.  The results can be devastating, particularly if good backups are not available.

If you are a victim of one of these scams then report it to www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

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